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Czech ex-president Havel to be buried Friday

The funeral of former Czech president Vaclav Havel, who died Sunday morning at the age of 75, will take place Friday, the CTK news agency said.



Moscow: The funeral of former Czech president Vaclav Havel, who died Sunday morning at the age of 75, will take place Friday, the CTK news agency said.

The former president, a former chain smoker with chronic respiratory problems, had been in failing health for last few months. He was one of the leading anti-Communist dissidents of the 1970s and 1980s.

"The coffin with Vaclav Havel`s body will be put in the Vladislavsky Sal [Vladislav Hall] of the Prague Castle on Wednesday, December 21, so that people could pay their last respect," the head of the Czech presidential administration, Jiri Weigl, said.

A book of condolences for Vaclav Havel will be placed in Prague Castle Monday.
Czech leaders -- President Vaclav Klaus, Prime Minister Petr Necas and speakers of two chambers of the Czech Parliament, Milan Stech and Miroslava Nemcova, -- gathered in the Prague Castle Sunday to discuss the funeral ceremony.

Havel first came to international fame as a dissident playwright in the 1970s. The playwright turned political activist spent four-and-a-half years in prison for opposing Czechslovakia`s Communist government before emerging as a leader of the non-violent Velvet Revolution that swept it aside in 1989.

He was his country`s first democratically elected president after the Velvet Revolution. As president, he oversaw the country`s transition to democracy and a free-market economy, as well its peaceful 1993 breakup into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

"His peaceful resistance shook the foundations of an empire, exposed the emptiness of a repressive ideology, and proved that moral leadership is more powerful than any weapon," said US President Barack Obama said in a statement.

"He played a seminal role in the Velvet Revolution that won his people their freedom and inspired generations to reach for self-determination and dignity in all parts of the world."

IANS

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